The Lone Wolf

The Lone Wolf
[Illustration by Francesco Muzzi]

You work solo, loading complex problems into your head and working them out from there.

Role model:

Henry David Thoreau. He wanted to reduce life to its barest essentials and, in his isolation, found something universal.


Your isolation might be great for your productivity, but it can be hell on your team or clients. Kellogg professor Leigh Thompson says that the lone wolf should start the day doing her own work but emerge to the campfire around noon or 1 p.m. offering the group a satisfied, “This is as far as I got, and now I need some feedback.”

How to be most effective on email:

Deep-focused work requires lone-wolf privacy. So save your shallow-focused work–such as email and calendaring–for more public, social places, such as your open office.

Got 15 minutes to spare?

“Fifteen minutes of face-to-face time with someone on the team could make their day,” says Thompson. “Colleagues eventually need feedback. People feel connected when they’re in the presence of others–our whole physiology responds.”

Killer app combo:

Yammer is perfect for keeping up with collective work flow, while Quip will allow you to work with others on documents. (Or not.) More apps for the Lone Wolf >>

For more productivity tips, go to, and join our ongoing conversation on Twitter at #worksmarter.